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Poster: Ganbachi Date: Feb 26, 2009 2:31am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re-opening an old thread - martial arts movies

Hope I'm not opening a can of worms here: (please excuse my ignorance!)

On the US copyright website it states that "In 1996, copyright was automatically restored in certain foreign works that were then in the public domain in the United States but were protected by copyright or neighboring rights in the source country. "

Desert Island Films still offer these films with the proviso that it is for use in the US only (as if the international copyright laws don't count there). Public domain torrents ( still has a large number of martial arts films on offer for free download and Mill Creek, BCI Eclipse et al, still keep releasing box sets of these movies - all apparently without C&D notices from the copyright holders.

I'm not suggesting that we fill IA with copyrighted features, I just don't know what the situation is. Is it just that asian distributors don't care what happens to their product after the initial profits dry up? Are the US distributors of these films just chancing it till they get caught?

I love martial arts movies and have a huge collection I'd like to upload here (but obviously wont).

Then there's Euro-westerns (some of which appear on IA)...

What's going on?

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Poster: Video-Cellar Date: Mar 1, 2009 3:18am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Re-opening an old thread - martial arts movies

Generally, the rule is that GATT/URAA restored the copyrights in works from Asia. Most of the Martial Arts films are from Hong Kong where the copyright in film is life plus 50 years for the last surving author. It was impossible that these films whihc mostly are from the 60s and 70s would have been PD in the US.

There are a few reasons why some of these are still widely available:

When these films became exploitable in the US market lots of US companies made films in HK and in the Phillipines with local and imported talent. These US productions, even though they were made overseas, were not impacted by GATT. If they were PD in 1996 they stayed PD.

The other reason is a legal technicality. When films were purchased by a US distributor and dubbed and then released without adherence to the copyright regulations, it could be argued that the dubbed US version was a licenced, legal and authorised derivative work that was released into to the public domain. Under this line of argument, GATT effects the foreign language or international cut of the film and not the US version. (The reverse of this technicality has been used by a lot of European distributors to take back the rights to movies that weren't PD and keep the US versions out of the market. For example, Mario Bava's films are not available not in the AIP versions since GATT.)

These films may also have been abandoned by their legal distributors. Their distributors may also not have the resources to follow up every infringement. It is possible that these films fall into some budget licenced content library were small licencing fees are paid. I know a lot of the martial arts films that D.I.F offer are noted as copyright content.